2016年2月9日 星期二

A Cultural History of Postwar Japan 1945-1980

Recently I have read the following book. A book summary is attached:

Book title: Tsurumi, Shunsuke. 1987. A Cultural History of Postwar Japan 1945-1980. Kegan Paul International.

Main points:
Chapter 1: talks about the occupation of Japan by the US since August 1945. The early phase of the occupation perpetuated the original spirit of the New Deal as it had existed in the US. (p.2)
-  the Japanese government had constructed an elaborate message to the Japanese people that they had acted wisely in bringing the long war to an honorable close (in avoiding using the word surrender) (p.5).
- the occupation authority allowed the Japanese to use the term ‘termination of war’ and ‘stationing of forces’ in lieu of ‘defeat’ and ‘occupation’ (6).
- for the people at large, the most durable influence of the Occupation was on the Japanese life style, especially with respect to relationships between women and man.
Chapter 2: was on the sense of justice as seen from the War Tribunal. The view of Japanese on the tribunal during the period of existence was different from that of 30 years later (p.13). On 9th August 1945, Ministry of Foreign Office stated that the term ‘war criminal’ would refer only to those who had violated international laws by action such as ill-treating prisoner of war. The war leaders did not consider the possibility of being prosecuted by the international court in front of the Japanese people (p.13).
- according to Keenan the main purpose of the trial was to defend peace and international law, and the punishment of the accused was only a subsidiary purpose. The Japanese felt that those seven had died as scapegoats; some though that they had died for the emperor. Seeing the trial as a modern legal cover of a primitive form of retaliation, the Japanese accepted the justice imposed by the conquerors as a physical necessity (pp.14-15).
- the absence of the Emperor at the trial was a relief to most Japanese, it was universally understood throughout the War that all orders were given in the name of the Emperor (p.16).
- in 1952 the Occupation was over, in response to the Korean war, the US began to support the return of wartime leaders, the Japanese economy was able to achieve a recovery (p.21).
- in the wake of the prosperity since 1960 there had been a surge of compassion for the victims of the War Crime Trials, expressed in a play by Takeda Taijuin published in 1954, with an English version performed in 1967 (p.23).
- the last testament of General Tojo was a 31-sylable poem. Tojo fought courageously in the trial for his belief that the war was inevitable and just, he could meet his death unburdened by regrets. (p.24).
- 30 years after the War, the Emperor in a press interview on TV said that he was not aware of any such thing as responsibility for war, showing disregard to the sentiment of people and the victims of War. Since the surrender, Japanese had retained affection and respect for the Emperor as was shown in polls and surveys (p.26).
Chapter 3 – talks about comics in post war Japan. In addition to picture-card shows and the lending library, a third factor contributed to the unique character of modern Japanese comics was the emergence of women cartoonists (p.41). Therefore its path of development was different from that of the US.
Chapter 4 – it was about vaudeville acts. The continuing stream of common culture was a basic reason why more than 90 per cent of Japanese today label themselves as middle class. Standard of living, measured in terms of automobiles, washing machines and color TV could not alone account of the middle-class consciousness. It had its roots in the mid-Tokugawa city culture (p.49).
- according a folklorist, linguistic arts in Japan had their origin in banquet amusement. It was the manzai performance. The heart of the performance was a simple dialogue between the serious character and the nitwit.
- manzai differed from the rakugo, the art of telling droll stories, another vaudeville art fostered in the Edo period (p.53).
Chapter 5 talks about legends of common culture, mainly focuses on TV.
- national feeling had to be expressed in postwar Japan with means other than the national flag, the national anthem, and the imperial edicts. After Japan entered its period of economic growth, the TV broadcasting of a song congest by NHK TV at the close of the year seemed to have been a major national symbol (p.64). Other popular programmes were the NHK serialized drama broadcast each morning, and the Great River Drama seen on Sunday evenings.
- in a highly developed capitalist society, the art form most accessible to the general populace was advertising. (74)
- another literary pole was journalism. This form of literature had a prehistory in Japanese detective novel, which became highly popular after 1960s (p.77). After his early success as a mystery writer, Matsumoto went on to write a social history series: mysteries of the occupation period, mysteries of the prewar Japanese government etc. (p.78). His Black Fog Series had contributed an invaluable service in reporting social activities (p.78).
Chapter 6. It was about trends in popular songs since the 1960s. Three groups of songs could be identified. The first group was song in the pre-Meiji tradition of Japanese music. The second group was the early Western-style melodies composed in Japan. The third group were from the postwar period after the close contact with American culture during the Occupation that formed a new stream (pp.94-98).
Chapter 7: the magazine World Culture and the weekly paper Saturday were not bound by ideology; they were issue-oriented and were the forerunners of the citizen’s movement after 1960s.
- After the bloody May Day of 1952, factional fighting within the Communist party caused them to loosen their grip on the “circles”. By 1960, the word ‘circle’ had come to mean any small group of amateurs pursing some cultural activity (p.106).
- when the industrialization of Japan introduced new disease and created more victims of pollution, a citizens’ movement emerged (p.107).
- as a theorist of the citizen’s movement, and former member of the ‘World culture’ circle during the War, Taketani Mitsuo talked about public issues (p.107).
- the most famous incident in the anti-pollution movement was the protest against Minamata disease (p.108).
- of all the postwar Japanese cartoons, ‘Sazaesan’ by Hasegawa Machiko had enjoyed the longest life, from 1946 up to the present (p.111). This ‘Sazaesan’ reflected the social outlook of some 15 to 20 million ordinary Japanese (p.113).
Chapter 8: It was about patterns of life. A society for the study of contemporary customs beginning in 1976 asked its 500 members about their breakfast habits. Only 6 percent ate the traditional Japanese breakfast of boiled rice, bean-paste soup, and fermented soy beans etc. (p.117).
- the government policy of high industrialization at the cost of agriculture had so far made Japan a prosperous country. It had urbanized Japan and turned the majority of Japanese into city dwellers. (p.120).
- since the 1960s, the majority of Japanese men and women had worn western clothes, even when they were at home (p.122).
- according to an estimate by a population institute in 1979, the Japanese population had stabilized, and would reach zero growth after 50 years (p.123).

Chapter 9: the misconception of British schoolchildren regarding Japan was often duplicated in western guidebooks (p.129). Among the many issues, the author pointed out 3 areas that the guidebooks had overlooked.